Judge Rejects NC FedEx Hub Injunction

Thu March 04, 2004 - National Edition

GREENSBORO, NC (AP) A federal judge denied an injunction Tuesday sought by opponents of the FedEx cargo hub, but pledged to rule within 60 days on the merits of their legal effort to halt the project.

The ruling means that crews for the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority can continue to do initial site work while legal challenges are taken up in the courts.

U.S. Middle District Court Judge Frank Bullock Jr. said that he didn’t see a pressing need for an injunction because he didn’t think any irreparable harm would occur before he ruled on the opponents’ overall legal challenge.

The hub opponents, who filed the case in late January, are seeking to have the courts throw out a water-quality permit that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued for the project. The permit, issued on Dec. 8, was the last one airport officials needed to conclude a five-year environmental review process and allow initial site work to begin at the first of the year.

Attorneys for the airport and Army Corps of Engineers countered that an injunction wasn’t warranted because there’s no environmental risk and would only cause costly delays and financial harm to the airport and its contractors.

Bullock ruled Tuesday that neither party would be substantially harmed by denying the injunction because no sensitive areas would be disturbed before he rules on the case’s merits.

Piedmont Triad Airport Authority Chairman Henry Issacson said he was pleased that the injunction was denied and work can proceed at the site for FedEx’s fifth national cargo hub.

A leader of the hub opposition movement, Mark Warren, said the denial of the injunction wasn’t a tremendous setback. Bullock’s plan to issue a quick ruling on the case lessens the effect of an injunction, Warren said.

FedEx and the airport authority have signed a lease that calls for the hub to open no later than the middle of 2009. FedEx has pledged to employ 1,500 full- and part-time workers when the hub is fully operational.